Members of the far-right anti-government group Patriot Prayer and counter protesters are expected to stage demonstrations on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol building on Sunday Mar. 28, according to an email sent to the Willamette community by Director of Campus Safety Ross Stout on Mar. 25. The rallies are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., but attendees have been known to show up at similar rallies hours in advance. Stout advised students to avoid the area where the rallies are expected to take place because of past violence at similar rallies, the likelihood of protestors open-carrying weapons and continuing COVID-19 prevention concerns.
Open carry of firearms on public property is allowed under Oregon law. However, weapons of any kind are not allowed on the Willamette campus. While Stout encouraged students to stay away from the rally, if students observe someone with a weapon on campus, they should keep their distance and call Campus Security at 503-370-6911.
Patriot Prayer is a far-right anti-government group founded in 2016. They are active in the Pacific Northwest, especially in cities like Seattle and Portland, where they [seek out] confrontation with counter protesters in hopes of provoking violence. Patriot Prayer [encourages] members to be armed at all of the organization’s rallies.
Though Stout’s email characterized Patriot Prayer and “Antifa” as “two groups with opposing views,” antifascists are neither an organization nor a coordinated movement. This makes it difficult to predict the motivations and tactics of the antifascist actors at the upcoming protest. In general, antifacist protesters have been known to destroy property at protests.